Firefighters report progress even as temperatures soar
Days of arduous work battling flames and
building fire-lines appeared to have paid off Tuesday as authorities reported
significant progress in taming the two most threatening wildfires in California.
Many homeowners who had been evacuated in the face of the Gap and Basin Complex fires were allowed to return home. According to state firefighting authority Cal Fire, the Gap Fire was 50 per cent contained Tuesday up from 35 per cent containment on Monday. More significantly, the major threat to populated areas to the west of the fire was "mopped up" by the 1,300 firefighters attacking the blaze. They will now concentrate on dousing hot spots and building 13 more kilometers of fire line to completely surround the 4,000 hectare fire.
Further north progress was also reported on the more stubborn Basin Complex fire that has threatened the scenic tourist area of Big Sur. That fire, one of over a thousand that started on June 21 in a freak lightning storm, was pronounced 35 per cent contained Tuesday. However with a heatwave predicted to linger in California till the weekend bringing breezes and low humidity, concerns remain about possible flare-ups.
More than 300 blazes are still burning statewide, down from a peak of 1,781 since the current fire siege began on June 20. More than 255,000 hectares have burned from Nevada to the Pacific Ocean, but relatively little property has been lost: 40 homes, one business and 61 outbuildings, dpa reported.